Puerto Morelos Mexico
Puerto Morelos is a fishing village turned resort town which lies inshore from the Great Mesoamerican Barrier Reef at the entrance to the Mayan Riviera, in the state of Quintana Roo. Its laid-back, slower paced setting is a stark comparison to its bookend neighbors of Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Anyone looking for a vacation away from the hustle and bustle of the bigger, established tourist towns, may find Puerto Morelos, the perfect travel destination.
The village’s initial claim to fame was that it was once the embarkation point for the car ferry to Cozumel, which now leaves from Playa del Carmen. Recently, though, Puerto Morelos has caught the eyes of all-inclusive resort and hotel developers who have plans for developing tourism in this small town, and with good reason – Puerto Morelos has several compelling points of interest to draw tourists in.
Puerto Morelos Attractions
The Great Mesoamerican Barrier Reef
The second largest reef system in the world and the largest in the Western Hemisphere, is closer to the shore (1/3 mile) near Puerto Morelos than it is at most other points along the coast of Quintana Roo. In 1998, the reef in front of Puerto Morelos became a protected National Marine Park, preserving its rich biodiversity and making this area one of the best preserved of the Great Mesoamerican Reef. Several dive shops offer guided diving and snorkeling tours to the reef, and snorkeling out to the reef from shore without a guide is not permitted. To protect the reef, visitors are only allowed onto the reef in the company of an accredited guide and wearing a life jacket.
Crococun Zoo Ecological Crocodile Farm and Native Zoo
A rambling exhibit of local and exotic animals, which are penned outside in the lush jungle. It’s child-friendly, with guided walking tours down a winding jungle path.
Jardín Botánico del Dr. Alfredo Barrera -Botanical Gardens
A beautiful botanical garden where exotic species of plants and flowers are displayed in the natural surroundings of the tropical rainforest.
Fresh Water Swimming in Cenotes
Cenotes are sinkholes in the native limestone that are filled with crystal-clear groundwater; some are large and deep, while others are small passages through a cave. Swimming is available at several cenotes where the temperatures average about 80°F year round, although cenotes out of direct sunlight are colder and a partial wetsuit may be in order. A swimming alternative is at the white-sand beach located in the center of town, near the main fishing pier.
Shop for unique, hand-made ceramics created by the well-known local artist, Ricardo Arias Alcantara, as well as for handcrafted Mayan artwork.
Travel & Getting Around
The nearest major airport is the Cancun International Airport, where tourists can catch a bus to Puerto Morelos. Buses arrive and depart from the highway about 1 mile from town. From there, visitors can hop a local bus, which frequently travels between the highway and the beach, or take a taxi into town. Visitors could walk in, but the road leads through a mosquito-infested mangrove swamp, so adequate insect repellent is required; they would also need to watch out for curious crocodiles. Other options from Cancun include a private transfer service, which will drop visitors off directly at their hotel doorstep, or a rental car.
Puerto Morelos has just two streets, with a zocalo (town square) at its center, and you can walk from one end to the other in about 15 minutes. Bicycling is a great way to get around within the village, and many local shops rent them. For longer excursions, a taxi stand is located on the west side of the zocalo, and a local car rental agency is located off the highway from Puerto Morelos.
Restaurants & Hotels
Restaurants serving everything from fish tacos to fresh ceviche are located around the town square and along the beach, and if you’re accommodations include a kitchen, you can purchase fresh fish from fishermen on the pier and cook them yourself. Mini-marts are also available on the zocalo.
Accommodations range anywhere between a simple fan-cooled room and elaborate, all-inclusive resorts surrounding the town.
Spanish is largely spoken in Puerto Morelos, but visitors can get by with English. Most places accept US dollars, but not credit cards. Prices are generally quoted in Mexican pesos, and it’s generally cheaper to pay in pesos than in US dollars.